I got my iPhone 4 a couple months ago, and now that I’ve had it, I can’t imagine life without it. With the app store, I’m almost convinced my iPhone can do anything. However, I was a bit surprised when I found it could also act as a portable guitar effects unit as well.
A couple months ago Griffin Technology released their GuitarConnect cable for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. This cable plugs your guitar right into your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. The headphone output allows you to connect auxiliary speakers or headphones.
I was able to get ahold of the GuitarConnect cable to try out in person, and here’s what I think.
Griffin ships the GuitarConnect cable in a small plastic bag. The cable feels very durable in my hands. It’s not flimsy, but it’s still very flexible. The cable is 6′ long so it’s plenty long enough to reach from my iPhone to my electric guitar.
Griffin offers their guitar effects iShred LIVE for free, so I downloaded that, plugged my guitar in, and then plugged my headphones in and I was ready to go.
Exploring iShred LIVE
Upon opening up iShred LIVE on my iPhone, I see a channel strip at the top of app with settings to switch between a clean and overdrive channel with gain settings. Below that, there is collection of eight pedals. The ones that are transparent are ones that are available for purchase for as much as $1.99. These include a compressor, treble booster, tremolo, chorus, and distortion/fuzz pedal. The pedals that come with the app are a noise gate, delay, and phaser/modulation pedal.
If I click to the “Presets” tab, I have a collection of presets I can select from. I can also save presets that I create into the user bank presets.
iShred LIVE Tonal Quality
For a free app that runs an effects unit right from your iPhone, I wasn’t expecting it to match the quality of a real-life pedal board. This was a fair expectation. You’ll quickly notice that while each of the effects pedals does exactly what it’s suppose to, the sound of the guitar tends to sound very digital and thin. This is to be expected though from an iPhone app.
One problem I was having was that even on a clean setting my guitar signal was distorting. Thankfully, the iShred LIVE app includes a sound meter towards the bottom of the app. I simply turned the volume knob on my guitar to fix the clipping issue. This did make me have to compensate for the loss of volume by increasing the volume on my iPhone though.
A Very Handy Practice Tool
You’re not going to be getting any really sick guitar tones from this device, but I can see how handy this app can be for practice. The app also includes a tuner, metronome, and an audio player that allows you to play your guitar along to audio files in your iTunes library.
The metronome worked as exactly as I expected. It’s nice that you can even specify how many beats per measure you want the metronome to register. The tuner was very simple but accurate enough to get a good tuning.
I was a bit disappointed with the built in audio player. It ended up not being very practical because the volume of the audio file was significantly louder than the output of the guitar. Unfortunately, the volume control controls the volume of the audio player AND the guitar signal. It would be nice if there were two separate volume controls for the audio file and the guitar. However, one really cool part of the built in audio player was that you can select a certain part of the song to loop. This comes in handy if you’re trying to transcribe or hear a guitar part.
You’re not getting a word class sounding guitar tone from this application, however, it does make a very good practice tool considering it’s so portable and easy to use. If you could take advantage of this portability, at $29.99 this would be a good buy. Plus, it’s just cool to be able to play your guitar through your iPhone.
Learn more about the Griffin GuitarConnect cable at Griffin’s website here.